Words of Encouragement from the Secretary of State Project
Since 2000 the specter of election fraud has haunted America's elections. There is little question that things have gone wrong in our elections in recent years, from gun toting rednecks threatening Hispanic voters to voter caging to what appears to be manipulation of voting machines by Republican biased companies. It is unclear if this kind of activity has actually affected the outcomes of elections, and if so how many elections, but problems have been frequent and almost always favoring Republicans. It should be noted that this year, to date, accusations of fraud that favor Democrats has been largely debunked, while accusations of fraud favoring Republicans has led to actual arrests in at least two cases.
Since 2000 the reaction to apparent election fraud has ranged from denial to panic. Panic is NEVER appropriate. And I will deal with the denial end when I have more time. But the truth is, neither panic nor denial are terribly effective strategies. What is effective is preparation and action. Barack Obama's unprecedented legal team is one example of this. But there is a much quieter example that is already paying dividends: the Secretary of State Project. The Secretary of State Project (SoS) was created by concerned citizens to provide an easy-to-use, low-cost vehicle for online donations to key Secretary of State races. They got started in 2006 and won five key races. You want to hear preparation, compare the list of states that the SoS project won in 2006 to our key swing states this year: Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa and...yep, Ohio. This success in 2006 should be reassuring to America in 2008, as recently pointed out by the Secretary of State Project:
We're all feeling anxious about whether every vote will be counted on Tuesday. But with reform-minded Secretaries of State running the election in key states, we can rest somewhat easier tonight.
In 2006, together we helped elect five candidates to Secretary of State positions in key 2008 battleground states: Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico, and Minnesota. Today those Secretaries of State are a "firewall" against efforts by republican operatives to steal the election.
Stopping voter suppression at the source is the most efficient way to protect the election. But most of what we do happens under the radar. And when we elect a candidate to Secretary of State, the full impact isn't felt sometimes until years later.
Our 2006 candidates are actively working to protect the election. Read [here] an article about the impact of our work together. And consider the impact our 2008 candidates -- if elected -- will have in 2010 and 2012.
Jennifer Brunner, the SoS Project supported candidate in Ohio who won in 2006, has been winning awards for her reforms and has been successfully standing up to Republican attempts at voter fraud in Ohio. Ohio is a swing state, no doubt. Either candidate could win it, though Obama has been consistently ahead for weeks. But one thing we can be sure of is that the obstructionism that the former Ohio secretary of state engaged in in 2004 will not be repeated this year. Ohio's elections WILL be fair this year. Similarly, we have see the new secretaries of state in Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico also standing up for fair elections and for greater enfranchisement.
This year the SoS Project has four targeted races:
Linda McCulloch in Montana (which is now practically a swing state!)
Kate Brown in Oregon (incumbent)
Natalie Tennant in West Virginia
Robin Carnahan in Missouri
Hopefully we can win these four races this year and continue to shore up our democracy.
One further note. People ask me about Florida. In general I have seen too much in the way of disenfranchisement in Florida from 2000-2006 to feel confident that elections there are fair. Remember that in 2004 the Carter Center refused to monitor the Florida elections because they did not meet the minimum requirement for a democratic election due to partisan election boards. And in 2006 there was another suspicious outcome where there was an 18,000 vote undercount that is thought to have decided the election for the Republican against Christine Jennings. But I am starting to feel that Florida 2008 is different from Florida 2000-2006 thanks to their Governor...I should add their REPUBLICAN Governor. Despite his party affiliation Governor Christ has shown a pretty good desire to have Florida elections improve. He has at least twice stood up for fairer elections, most recently by, against the wishes of the Republican Party, insisted that early voting stations stay open longer to accommodate the huge early voter turnout. I applaud Governor Christ and hope this means Florida, too, will be a fair election this year.
Vote with pride. Vote with confidence. Between the new generation of secretaries of state in Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Nevada, and New Mexico, Obama's ground game throughout the country, and the actions of Florida Governor Christ, this year your vote WILL count.